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QUOTH THE RAVEN Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 1991

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Crimeline (Sept. 1 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553292552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553292558
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 10.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,055,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Following Act of Darkness , this fourth adventure of former FBI agent Gregor Demarkian takes place in two tense days at Independence College, a small but prestigious school situated in rural Pennsylvania. It is nearly Halloween: the students are preparing a traditional bonfire by heaping wood around a scaffold where an effigy of King George sits56 ; Dr. Katherine Branch, a witch, is conducting mystical rites with her coven102 ; a sociable raven named Lenore circles the faculty apartments; and the lecherous, tenured and thoroughly despised Dr. Donegal Steele7 is missing, if not missed. Demarkian, on campus to lecture about FBI investigations of serial killers, is shocked when Miss Maryanne Veer7 , Steele's secretary, is poisoned with lye in the dining hall--he takes it as a given that Steele has been murdered and that Veer suspected foul play. With the help of his high-strung preppy sidekick Bennis Hannaford43 and longtime Philadelphia friend, Father Tibor Kasparian3 , he seeks a perpetrator among the costumed students and quirky faculty. Although the characters are somewhat two-dimensional, the ominous October atmosphere is pk neatly rendered, and the possible motives and circumstances will keep readers guessing.

Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Halloween, a college bonfire, and a talking raven Dec 17 2002
By Michele L. Worley - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first person Father Tibor Kasparian has really hated since escaping from the Soviet Union is Dr. Donegal Steele, the pig who's the fly in the ointment for most of Independence College. Otherwise, teaching a semester of philosophy at Independence is a dream come true for Father Tibor: it's even what he was trained to do, once upon a time, even though teaching philosophy is what first got him into *so* much trouble. Father Tibor even has his first experience with pets, as Independence College has tame deer and even a talking raven (named Lenore, of course).
Two days before the Halloween bonfire - that is, two days before Tibor's friend Gregor Demarkian is due to make a guest lecture - Steele has disappeared. One half-joking rumor is that Jack Carroll, the soon-to-be-self-made law student whose tuition is cobbled together from scholarships and 30 hours a week in a body shop, finally beat the stuffing out of Steele for slandering Chessey Flint, Jack's girl. Steele's sexual harassment of various faculty and students is breathtakingly outrageous, and it doesn't seem to be blocking him from making a move for the post of chairman of the history department. Dr. Alice Elkinson, the youngest tenured faculty member and with the most serious reputation, would get it on merit if merit were considered, and her fiancee Ken Crockett would get it if the historical society got a vote, but Steele has written a popular (though tripey) book. Katherine Branch and her shadow, Vivi Wollman, are fretting that they are now professors without a department, since Women's Studies has had neither the popularity nor the academic rigor to survive at Independence, at least the way *they* teach it. The only person who is interested in locating Steele is Maryanne Veer, the department secretary; like everyone else, she doesn't *want* to see Steele, but a professor skipping out on his lecture and office hour schedule makes problems.
And when Gregor Demarkian and Bennis Hannaford are greeted with a case of lye poisoning over lunch in the Independence College cafeteria, it's Maryanne Veer who's the victim. Although she survives the attack, the damage done to her throat and voicebox effectively silences her for some time to come. And it's definitely an attack: the local sheriff can testify that Maryanne, having come from the wrong side of the tracks, knows too much about lye to attempt suicide with it; no other food in the cafeteria is contaminated, which rules out accident; and whatever food on her tray was spiked with lye disappeared while Gregor was giving first aid with his expertise on poisons.
Gregor and Tibor both have problems dealing with the students' childish antics and the other aspects of Halloween, each for his different reasons. Neither has much use for immaturity, and both have seen too much real violence to enjoy its illusion. (Gregor, of course, is a veteran of the FBI. Tibor, who up to this point in the series had been a peripheral supporting player, escaped from religious persecution in the old Soviet Union; his character, fleshed out much more here than in previous books, is definitely *not* just comic relief. 'Christianity and Constitutional Law, that was Father Tibor Kasparian.') Even Cavanaugh Street's illusions of Halloween drive Gregor up the wall, although for different reasons: nobody takes reasonable precautions. Only Bennis Hannaford, who is just now officially moving to Cavanaugh Street, takes Gregor seriously, and she says Lida and the other ladies only pat her on the head and say, Yes, dear - now that boy you were out with, is he responsible? :)
Finally, a brief overview of the supporting players. Katherine Branch is not a sympathetic character, but on the other hand, the parts of the story shown from her viewpoint make it clear that she's a phony. It's hard to believe a creep like Steele could survive so long in a public position, let alone on a college campus, even though it's his first semester: he's committed slander and sexual harassment, including *groping* a female student he didn't even know in front of a large audience. The story is saved because that's openly part of the problem Steele creates for other people - that he manages to get away with all the slimy things he does, and smear the muck on his victims rather than himself. The relationship between Chessey and Jack in the face of Steele's allegations is a major subplot: how to effectively quash Steele's rumor campaign against Chessey. Jack, as president of students, is also able to give Gregor some of the real lowdown on campus crime.
Good story, allowing for the fact that Steele couldn't get away with his antics unscathed on a real campus.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Quoth the Raven April 12 2013
By S Riaz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the fourth in the Gregor Demarkian mystery series, following on from Not a Creature Was Stirring (The Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mysteries), Precious Blood (not currently on kindle) and Act of Darkness (The Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mysteries). Although the books do not have to be read in order, I would really recommend reading at least the first book in the series before embarking on any others, as that introduces Gregor Demarkian and his friends and neighbours; including Bennis Hannaford and Father Tibor, who both feature in this novel.

Father Tibor has been invited to teach philosophy for one semester at Independent College and he has asked Gregor, (who worked for the FBI for twenty years before retirement) to give a lecture. It is Halloween and the college burns an effigy of 'Mad King George' on a bonfire each year as a college tradition. In fact, when Gregor and Bennis arrive, the college is full of students in costume, who have every intention of enjoying themselves. That is more than the faculty are doing - they are tense and divided over the possible new choice of chairman for their department. What is more, the most likely (and least poular) choice, 'The Great Doctor' Donegal Steele has gone missing. Although everyone on campus seems to have breathed a sigh of relief at his absence, Miss Maryanne Veer, the secretary for the chairman - who virtually runs the department anyway - is concerned enough to have suggested calling the police and reporting him missing. Soon after Gregor's arrival, somebody attempts to poison her with lye and he has to solve the mystery of why someone would possibly want to try to kill her and where Donegal Steele has disappeared to. As well as why Lenore, the tame Raven who feeds out of Father Tibor's hand, has become so distressed lately; behaving in an erratic manner and circling the college like a harbinger of death.

As always, Jane Haddam creates a great cast of characters and suspects to populate her novel. As well as the thoroughly unpleasant Dr Steele, who is conspicuous even in his absence, there is Dr Katherine Brand, an overtly feminist witch, the beautiful Dr Alice Alkinson and the popular Dr Kenneth Crockett, as well as students Jack Carroll and Chessey Flint. Of course, Gregor Demarkian solves the mystery, like the 'Armenian Hercule Poirot' the press has labelled him. If you enjoy authors such as Christie or P D James, then it is likely you will also enjoy the Gregor Demarkian novels. The next book in the series is A Great Day for the Deadly (The Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mysteries).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
like looking at a map and some pictures of Philly ... Oct. 13 2014
By Marilyn A. Bonomi - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I read several of the Demarkian novels when they were first published. But as someone who was born and grew up in Philly, I finally reached the breaking point and I believe it was this novel that did it.

Is this the one where the protagonist and friends drive *south* several hours to reach a Pennsylvania college? (They'd be in Baltimore by then.) And the college has a statue of a Minuteman at its center? You know, those Boston guys? Not to mention all the triple-deckers-- that Philly doesn't have but Boston does...

Even a bare minimum of fact-checking, like looking at a map and some pictures of Philly for a start?

It's worse than all the cop shows where all the crimes take place in upper-class single-family neighborhoods, that simply don't exist inside city limits. (Body of Proof was a classic example.)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not quite five star April 7 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I don't place this in Haddam's top tier (which starts with Precious Blood and A Stillness in Bethlehem) but it's not far below. The puzzle is solid and the clues good. The milieu is an indictment of certain trends in academia; whether it is realistic or a base caricature (or worse) may depend on your personal politics.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Predictable May 27 2014
By Carmen - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This one ended too rapidly and easily and it's ending was very much predictable.
From the beginning you just knew where the missing person would end up.

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